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Wild Rye: Discover Our Wetland Wildlife

Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly

Recent Sightings

August 2013

A feature of the Beach Reserve and Rye Harbour Farm during August is the large numbers of yellow wagtail, and this year was no exception, with around 450 late in the month. This species is a summer visitor to Britain, arriving in April and leaving for its African wintering grounds around September. Breeding occurs in a range of habitats, and at Rye Harbour the main areas in recent years have been on Harbour Farm with the odd pair on grassy shingle on the Beach Reserve, though in the past it was much more widespread. Over the last 35 years numbers of yellow wagtail breeding in Britain have dropped by about 80%, putting it firmly on the list of red list breeding species (those of the most conservation concern due to falling breeding numbers), and this has been reflected in the breeding population at Rye Harbour. At its peak in the late 80s, over 60 pairs bred, but numbers have fallen steadily since then and only single pairs nested in 2012 and 2013.

Plenty of passage movement during August, with a wide range of migrating birds on the reserve. Waders included increasingly large flocks of golden plover, lapwing, curlew and dunlin, while an influx of sandpipers during August included small numbers of wood sandpiper, with two on the 3rd and 5th, 19 green sandpiper, and 61 common sandpiper, 48 on the new saltmarsh alone. Up to 12 greenshank and 13 black-tailed godwit were present on the 9th and 28th respectively, with smaller numbers of avocet, while two little stint were at Castle Water on the 29th, eight knot on Flat Beach on the 19th, with nine ruff here on the 9th, and six little ringed plover at Castle Water on the 2nd. Passerines during August included good numbers of wheatear, with 25 on the 29th, while an influx of hirundines saw counts of up to 400 sand martin and 250 swallow on the 23rd and 30 house martin on the 29th. There were also two turtle dove on Harbour Farm on the 24th and a spotted flycatcher at Castle Water on the 8th. Raptors included regular marsh harrier, a hobby on the Beach Reserve on the 31st and a buzzard at Castle Water on the 10th. On the Beach Reserve, the common tern colony was having a very late season, with unfledged chicks (below) still present at the end of the month, though it does seem to have produced a decent number of fledglings. Both little tern (early in the month) and Sandwich tern (throughout) were present, with the occasional roseate tern also putting in an appearance.

The Lime Kiln moth trap turned up some interesting species during August, the highlights being several pale grass eggar, and the occasional bordered ermel, crescent striped and rosy-streaked knothorn. As with birds, something of a month for migrants, with lots of silver y and diamond-back moth and the odd dark sword grass in the trap, a humming bird hawk-moth on the Lime Kiln Buddleia on the 11th, and a Jersey Tiger (below) on the Beach Reserve on the 13th. In addition, clouded yellow were seen throughout the month (including a recently emerged individual in the Barn Field on the 14th), with the odd painted lady and red admiral thrown in for good measure! Plants in flower during August included least lettuce, red hemp-nettle, wild carrot and meadow vetchling.